In an effort to revitalize the East Sprague neighborhood, the City of Spokane and the Spokane Police Department are hoping to prevent and reduce sex trafficking by putting up new signs as part of the "See Something? Say Something" campaign.
On Wednesday, police officers began a door-to-door initiative posting signs to encourage residents who see prostitution in the area to say something. If citizens see any sort of sex trafficking, the police department wants them to write down the license plate, vehicle description and the suspect's description of anyone believed to be soliciting a prostitute. Police say once they receive that report, they will follow up by contacting the registered owner of the reported cars.
New signs put up in the area now state, "Designated Area of High Prostitution Activity. Vehicles used to further prostitution activity will be impounded."
Also during the month of March, the Spokane Police Major Crimes Special Victims Unit will be conducting a series of undercover sting operations to arrest people who attempt to purchase sex from a prostitute. Offenders caught will be put in jail and their car will be impounded.
By cracking down on the reputation of being a prostitution area, city leaders are hoping to reinvigorate the business district and the surrounding neighborhoods.
The City of Spokane has already set aside $760,000 for re-paving First Avenue this summer, while making parking more readily available and the area pedestrian friendly. $6 million in grant applications have been submitted for improvements on Sprague, including a $1.5 million WSDOT grant that would fund pedestrian refuge islands and street lights.
The City says in total $32 million in projects are planned for the area over the next few years.